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Quality Journalism in the Digital Age

Kenyan and German journalists team up in Nairobi

Twelve journalists from two countries in six teams = amazing stories. A recent DW Akademie media dialogue in Nairobi paired up Kenyan and German journalists for training and joint reporting. The mixed teams benefited from their different approaches and experiences, resulting in great ideas.

Nairobi has some of the worst traffic jams in the world – and the country’s techies are turning to mobile solutions to try to help commuters dodge bottlenecks and tailbacks. Journalists Alfred Kiti and Moritz Metz explored the many apps and innovations vying to make it on Kenya’s competitive market. Nairobi’s tech scene is renowned internationally as a vanguard for digital change. The iHub, center for Nairobi’s start-up scene, was starting point for Kiti and Metz’s research. Their reporting trips took them riding Nairobi’s wifi-busses and talking to developers and data analysts creating these traffic apps.

Another team – made up of newspaper journalists Felix Olick and Christian Kucznierz – followed up on the aftermath of September’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall, focusing on the political and economical ramifications of the attack.

Radio journalist Lisa Schoeffel and Samuel Gaicima’s explored notions of Kenyan identity as the country marked 50 years of independence. They decided to talk to young people and even nabbed an interview with members of one of Kenya’s most popular bands, Sauti Sol.

Participants reflect on their impressions – click on the pictures to find out more.

Mutual learning experience

Different topics, different approaches and different perspectives – working as a team challenged the participants of this four-day Media Dialogue to reflect on alternative ways of doing their work.

“Working together with German colleagues has been an eye-opening experience,” said Felix Olick, who regularly reports from The Hague on the International Criminal Court for Kenya’s Standard newspaper. “It has shown me journalism on a global perspective and to not be confined to Kenyan journalism. I have learned a lot about international standards.”

Sabine Mohamed, a blogger for the Berlin-based feminist blog Mädchenmannschaft says as well as giving her a chance to learn more about Kenya, working together was “an enrichment in terms of sharing views and finding out about the similarities and differences in the field of journalism and also politics”. Mohamed’s Kenyan colleague Rayhab Wangari also valued the joint-reporting experience. Together, the two visited a refugee camp where they interviewed people made homeless by the violence following Kenya’s 2007 elections. “I explained the local context and the historical background to Sabine,” Wangari said. “Her questions made me realize how Kenya’s history and politics are seen from outside of our country.”

What struck German radio journalist Vivien Leue the most was the openness of interview partners and their willingness to talk to reporters. In Germany, she said, people were often more reserved with journalists and obtaining information from official institutions could be time-consuming, with requests often being delayed beyond deadline.

The topic of quality journalism was very much a topic during group discussions. Edwin Nyutho, Professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nairobi, talked to the group about challenges facing journalists in Kenya. “Journalists often lack professional skills because the journalism education is very theoretical,” he said. In addition, Kenyan journalists frequently lacked expertise in specific subject areas because they were trained as generalists.

The German participants shared their experiences of journalism training in their country, saying that one advantage was that many journalists studied something else at university, giving them a strong background in a certain field. However, they added, similar to Kenya, aspiring journalists often had to resort to internships to gain practical experience.

For the group, one of the main challenges facing journalism today was not the issue of quality but how to make sure you have the right information. “Everything is faster, quicker, and most information is free,” said German journalist Christian Kucznierz. “In this ocean of information, you need some references and orientation and you have to work on approaching people to get to know the value of information.”

View photos of the media dialogue on Flickr.


Monday 2014-01-06




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